Artist review: Apple Pencil USB-C

The Apple Pencil USB-C was released in early November 2023. This is an addition to the Apple Pencil 1 and Apple Pencil 2.

This is the table provided by Apple to show the differences. Click for a larger view.

The price of Apple Pencil USB-C, gen 1 and gen 2 are USD 79, USD 99 and USD 129 respectively.

Apple Pencil USB-C can work with all iPads with the flat side with the magnetic attachment, including iPad 10 (2022) that was marketed with Apple Pencil 1. The magnets are not as strong compared to Apple Pencil 2.

Apple Pencil USB-C support tilt, palm rejection and magnetic attachment. There is no pressure sensitivity, no wireless charging and no wireless pairing. This new Apple Pencil is designed for writing since there's no support for pressure sensitivity.

I don't think this is worth the money because there are many Apple Pencil alternatives in the market that provide similar performance and some even support wireless charging, and most are selling for less than half the price.

Apple Pencil USB-C has comparable solid build quality to Apple Pencil 2. The surface texture is matte and comfortable to hold. There's a good weight to the pen. The main visible difference is Apple Pencil USB-C is slightly shorter, and probably will look better on the iPad mini 6 (2021).

Charging is done through the USB-C port which is hidden behind a non-removable pull-out cap. You can charge the pen by connecting to USB power, or to a compatible iPad which will also pair the pen with Bluetooth.

There's no USB-C charging cable included with the purchase. This charging setup with the cable is not ideal because to charge the pen outdoors means you have to bring a cable along. This is where wireless charging is more convenient.

Battery life is about 12 hours. You can do a quick charge of 15s for 30 minutes of use.

It is important to know that the battery capacity is small, and you should not let the battery stay empty for long periods of time, e.g. months, because that can damage the battery. I have several digital pens that have damaged batteries because I don't use them and charge them often.

It uses the same pen tip as other Apple Pencils. This means you can choose from a wide variety of Apple Pencil tips that are available out there.

The default plastic tip is good for writing since it writes smooth. The hard plastic tip will have audible tapping sound. Writing performance is excellent. It has the same low latency performance as other Apple Pencils. For drawing, I recommend getting a silicone tip with more resistance on glass.

For drawing purposes, just note there is no support for pressure sensitivity. You can tilt the pen to get broader strokes with brushes that support tilt. It is possible to draw thin and thick lines depending on how you hold the pen, but there will be a limitation to the line width you can create. For example, with pressure sensitivity, you can choose a thick brush and still draw thin lines by using minimal pressure. With this pen without pressure, you will have to manually reduce the brush size to draw thinner lines.

The red lines above were drawn with Apple Pencil USB-C. The black lines were drawn with Apple Pencil 2.

With pressure sensitivity and tilt, you can draw thin, broad and thick lines. You can also control the opacity using pressure sensitivity.

Another missing feature is you cannot tap on a sleeping iPad to open Apple Notes app instantly.

There's also no double tapping shortcut to switch tools, e.g. between brush and eraser.

Apple Pencil USB-C supports hover or cursor preview with iPads that have this feature, e.g. M2 iPad Pros.

Tilt works with Clip Studio Paint, PaintStorm Pro and Procreate, but cursor does not follow the direction of the pen.

Adobe Photoshop does not support cursor preview.

It is difficult for me to recommend Apple Pencil USB-C because there are many Apple Pencil alternatives that provide the same performance and some also support wireless charging.

Those Apple Pencil alternatives can be easily purchased for less USD 40 or even 30, such as the Kuxiu Pencil 10 and eiP Pencil Pro. The Kuxiu Pencil 10 is also offered as a free gift with the purchase of selected iPad tablet stands from Kuxiu, and at this time they are the Kuxiu X33 and Kuxiu X36 magnetic clamp arm stand

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